As we step into the new year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting offers corporate leaders, policymakers and other stakeholders a chance to assess the year gone by and take stock of challenges and opportunities, extending to geopolitical developments, climate exigencies and economic hurdles. India has long had a significant presence at Davos and Indian industry has put together a formidable agenda aligned with the WEF’s theme of ‘Rebuilding Trust’ this year. India’s participation, led Smriti Irani, minister of women and child development, includes many government dignitaries, while the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) coordinates the business agenda. As this year’s theme, we are focusing on ‘Credible India.’
The Indian Growth Story
At Davos, we would showcase India’s resurgent growth and development narrative, which offers immense investment and collaboration opportunities to the world at a time of unpredictability and volatility in global economic affairs. The spotlight will be on the strong and stable 7.7% growth achieved in the first half of 2023-24, along with opportunities in diverse sectors. As per CII estimates, our economy will achieve 7% GDP growth in 2024-25 and has the potential to reach $9 trillion by 2030-31. India’s global engagement has risen in tandem with its growth, with exports of goods and services achieving a new peak of $776 billion in 2022-23. The emergence of knowledge-based industries has been complemented by our notable achievements in the space sector, for example, even as our talent base gets worldwide recognition.
Reforms over the last decade, such as GST, production-linked incentives, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, and the ‘Make in India’ campaign have streamlined business operations, enhanced transparency and promoted FDI. Investor-friendly policies and a facilitative ecosystem for business operations provide a solid foundation for sustained growth.
Under ‘Rebuilding Trust’, the WEF has prioritized four key areas for discussion: security and cooperation, growth and jobs, artificial intelligence (AI) and a strategy for climate, nature and energy. In each, India can play a critical role.
Achieving Security and Cooperation in a Fractured World
India’s 2023 presidency of the G20 helped forge a new template for global cooperation and the unanimously adopted New Delhi declaration is expected to resonate in Davos. India has crafted and joined major platforms for bilateral and plurilateral cooperation, such as the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor, Global Biofuels Alliance, Quad, Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and India-UAE-Israel-US. On the first sub-theme, this is the way forward.
Artificial Intelligence as a Driving Force for the Economy and Society
On AI, India has demonstrated how technology can deliver governance solutions at mass scale. The biometric identity programme Aadhaar and payments solution Unified Payments Interface (UPI) indicate the potential that AI holds for our country. India recorded 100 billion digital transactions in 2023. The government’s Digital India Mission is a global success story of bridging the rural-urban divide. AI advancements, automation and data-driven insights could also see India as a lead player.
Creating Growth and Jobs for a New Era
As for growth and jobs, the job market across countries is poised for major transformations in 2024. WEF provides a platform for world leaders to find innovative ideas on how countries can minimize trade-offs and maximize the synergies of human capital and technology. With our huge working age population, 5.5 million tech workers and digital-skills readiness, India at Davos will offer perspectives of the Global South on sustainable job creation.
A Long-Term Strategy for Climate, Nature and Energy
The fourth sub-theme of Davos gains salience as 2023 witnessed some of the worst climate change events in the world, necessitating innovative ideas to evolve and implement resilient measures for mitigation and adaptation. The Indian presence at Davos will bring out India’s energy transformation journey towards net zero along with other aspects of climate action. India’s pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2070 and meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources by 2030 is ambitious, but on track. Discussions on policy frameworks, investment opportunities, technology advancements and international partnerships related to India’s energy sector will be a key story to take forward at Davos.
Conversations at Davos are expected to result in many new collaborative efforts. India’s presence will ensure that our economy’s growth story, the government’s continued reform agenda and Indian industry’s resurgence will all be effectively showcased at the global business forum.
This article was first published in the Mint, on 12 January 2024.